Thousands of employees are promoted into a supervisory role annually. Sadly, most are not provided with any management training, whatsoever. The result? An astonishing number of them fail in their new role. Here’s why: transforming from an individual staff member responsible for one’s own performance, into a supervisor responsible for leading and motivating a team of employees, is a big change that requires completely different skill sets.
And there are many potential speed bumps that a new and inexperienced supervisor may face. For example, the reason for the promotion may be that the former supervisor was ineffective, leaving a team of direct reports who have been consistently underperforming &/or are disengaged at the time the new supervisor assumes his/her new role. Or, perhaps the new supervisor is now responsible for a team of individuals who used to be his/her peers, who may not view their former co-worker as a leader.
Though often overlooked, formal management training will help prepare a new supervisor to be successful in his/her new role. In fact, one recent study (performed by the Association for Talent Development) revealed that top-performing organizations spend twice as much per employee on training than their competition. Additionally, organizations who invest the time and resources in training yield higher net sales and gross profits per employee. With that in mind, we’ve identified the top twenty-five (25) most important competencies that every supervisor must be skilled in to succeed. Here’s a brief introduction to one of them.
A supervisor is often caught in the balancing act of keeping both front line workers and upper management happy, and when their interests may differ, it’s easy to fall into the bad habit of deflecting responsibility. Supervisors may wish to deflect responsibility because the variables are out of his/her control (regulatory requirements, technological failures &/or change), or may feel disempowered by extensive approval processes &/or slow decision making (paralysis by analysis). While the tendency may be to side with their direct reports and jump on the complaining bandwagon when a tough decision is handed down by upper management, it’s vital that supervisors set a positive example when communicating with their team. Undermining upper management is counter-productive as it often results in disrespect and mistrust from direct reports – suspicion that the supervisor is playing both sides of the fence. Instead, a trained supervisor will know that he/she can maintain an empathetic stance while still being an effective problem solver, a forward-thinking leader, and perhaps most importantly, a calm and unifying presence. This is an example of showing high emotional intelligence: the ability to be aware of and control one’s emotions in times of stress or conflict. In fact, studies have revealed that a whopping 90% of top performing professionals rank high in emotional intelligence, and are able to consistently exhibit self-control in the workplace.
The take away here is that skilled supervisors play a vital role in their teams’ daily performance and contribution to organizational success, and without formal management training they likely will be ill prepared to be an effective leader.